When entrepreneurs launch a business, they’re focused on driving sales in the door. Their top priority is making ends meet and growing their company. As they scale, the business owner assembles a rock star team and works hard to get their name out there. In the early days, marketing usually translates into a killer website, hundreds of cold calls and pounding the pavement. Every business owner goes through his or her share of growing pains. There’s no candy-coating it; it’s humbling.
Suppose you’ve manage to build a thriving business. Maybe you have 10 employees. Perhaps you have a staff of 50 or 500. Regardless of your company size, you deserve a big congrats. Statistically, you beat the odds and now your focus has shifted from strictly “getting customers” to keeping the ones you have satisfied. While you’ll always be concerned with customer acquisition, customer retention is arguably, just as important, if not more so. So, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Why Are Your Customers Leaving?
It’s surprising how many businesses, large and small fail to focus on why their customers are leaving. In every business, customers leave so don’t think your business is immune. For example, if you run a chiropractic practice, a percentage of your patients will switch chiropractors. If you own an auto repair shop, some of your customers will leave you for your biggest competitor down the street.
If you’re a hairdresser, a percentage of your clientele will find a different stylist. If you’re an attorney, some of your clients will never come back; they’ll find someone else to represent them. Essentially, no business is immune – clients and customers will always leave, but at what pace? At what point does customers leaving indicate there’s a bigger problem?
Now that we’ve established that all businesses deal with customer retention, it’s time to look under the hood. As a business owner, you want to find out why your customers are leaving you for the competition. If you’ve been in business for 10 years and this never crossed your mind, you have plenty of company. It’s a major weakness that business owners have, and there’s reasons for this.
Often, nobody wants to point fingers at favorite (or favored) employees. No one wants to admit that a process isn’t working. Not only that, but finding out the cause behind cancellations means business owners have to dig deep and accept responsibility for inefficiencies, for systems that are severely lacking. In other words, finding out why customers are leaving means – dirty work. Sometimes, business owners would rather ignore a problem than resolve it. And in doing so, it’s at the expense of their business.
Just Fix the Problem Already
If your clients or customers are leaving at an unsettling rate, it’s time to buckle down and get down to the root of the problem. It’s time to face the music. Even if only 5 or 10 percent of your customers ditch you, it’s still important to find out why. How else are you going to improve your product or service? Just know that your unhappy customers are going to be one of the best sources of advice and inspiration. They’ll show you how you need to improve, and why. You want to tap into that goldmine of knowledge.
If you’re disconnected to a lot of the moving parts because you’re the president, CEO, or founder and you have bigger fish to fry, you’ll learn a lot from your dissatisfied customers. For instance, you may find out that your customer service stinks, or your product is overpriced or even underpriced (giving the illusion it’s cheap), or you may find out that your marketing manager or support staff treat your customers like second class citizens. Or, perhaps your sales people never return phone calls. You just never know what you’ll find out when you ask, “Why did you decide to leave us?”
Here are some strategies to find out why your customers are ditching you for the competition:
Have a trusted employee (or you) call the customer and find out their reasons for leaving or cancelling. Create a survey and note the customer’s answers. Preferably, this should NOT be the person the customer has been dealing with.
Send the customer a survey through the mail or an email asking them about their reasons for leaving. In the survey, include a place for suggestions on how your company can improve its product or service.
Pay attention to customer responses; don’t ignore them. Unless the customer is clearly
insane (which happens), take their responses to heart and implement strategies to correct the inadequacies.
If you see a pattern; for example, a lot of customers have the same complaint, you must take steps to prevent the problem from recurring.
If you haven’t already, adopt strategies that focus on customer satisfaction and train your employees to put the customer on a pedestal. Surprisingly, a lot of companies have employees who don’t treat customers with the respect they deserve. But, a little training can go a long way!
There’s a reason why companies like Amazon.com, Chick-fil-A, Apple, Marriott, and Kroger have made their mark by being in the “Customer Service Hall of Fame.” Then, there’s my personal favorite, Trader Joe’s, where you’ll always see a smiling face and shoppers automatically think it must be the happiest place on Earth to work. Surely, there’s a person or company you give your business to because their product or service is out of this world and you can’t imagine going anywhere else.
I don’t know about you, but when I experience a great product and equally amazing customer service, I’m hooked. I’m loyal for life. Maybe that’s why I buy everything on Amazon and why I’ll pay double or triple just to work on a Mac. It’s all about the quality of the product and the customer experience.
If your customers are systematically leaving you, it’s time to find out why. Once you identify the problems that are disgruntling customers, you can act fast to correct them. Do whatever it takes. Strive for customer loyalty and your company will be bulletproof.
Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can follow her on www.elainnaciaramella.com , LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.